31 December 2022

2022 in Review


Around this time every year I usually take a look back at what I've written, submitted, published, and so forth, and put that into a SleuthSayers post--probably because it requires very little effort or imagination on my part. (The imagination machine in my head this late in the year is usually panting and wheezing and ready to put all four feet in the air.)

One problem, though, with my previous summary reports is that I've always included lots of statistics and percentages--probably too many. So this time I'm doing more of a casual observation. The only numbers I'll mention are these: I wrote fewer new stories in 2022 than in 2021--34 vs. 38--and had about half as many stories published this year as last--33 in 2022, 61 in 2021. I can't account for either difference, except that (1) I seem to be writing longer stories now, and (2) many of those stories that were scheduled to come out in 2022 have apparently been postponed until '23. (Best-laid plans and all that.) I currently have 35 stories that have been accepted but not yet published, in AHMM, EQMM, Woman's World, Mystery Magazine, Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, Black Cat Weekly, Black Cat Mystery Magazine, and others--and about a dozen anthologies and podcasts.

Having said all that . . . here are some observations I might make about this past year's literary output:


- I had more publications in magazines this year than in anthologies. I think one reason was that I saw fewer calls for anthologies--but another is that I might not have been as inclined to (or as able to ) produce stories with the themes needed by those anthos I did see.

- Most of my magazine stories published this year were in AHMM, Woman's World, Mystery Magazine, and Black Cat Weekly

- Most of my anthology stories were published in response to invitations by editors rather than via open calls for submissions.

- For a change, I had more "series" stories published this year than standalone stories. They were installments in five different series.

- This year I published (and wrote) more stories based on real historical events. Some of that is due to anthology calls/requests for stories set in a certain time period or certain location, but others--including those in magazines--were just personal preference. I've found I like reading those kinds of stories, so it made sense to start writing more of them.

- All the stories I had published this year were set in the U.S. (Unusual, for me.)

- As always, none of my published stories were written in present tense. I don't usually like reading those, so I don't like writing them. Give me the old past-tense, once-upon-a-time style.

- I did more tuckerizing this year (using friends's names as character names in stories, at their request).

- More of my stories published in 2022 were undiluted mystery/crime/suspense than in years past. Less than a dozen this time were cross-genre, and by that I mean mystery/western, mystery/fantasy, mystery/horror, etc. Far as I know, there was no reason for that; it just happened.

- I had fewer western-themed stories published this year--half a dozen of them, mostly standalone stories in Mystery Magazine and one in AHMM

- I had more stories than usual published this year that were written in first-person POV. Again, I don't know why. Up until now, most of my writing was in third-person (usually third-person multiple), because it often seems to be easier to build suspense and tension via third-person ("As the hero left the apartment, the villain watched him from the window across the street," etc.). But even my crime stories this year were written more in first-person than third.

- My published-in-2022 stories were usually longer (higher wordcount) than in previous years. Some of that was due to fewer stories sold to Woman's World and other flash markets, but also to the fact that I now just seem to be creating stories with more scenes and characters than before. Maybe I can blame that on my watching more cable series like Ozark, Yellowstone, etc., instead of two-hour movies. (Just kiddin.')

- I had fewer stories published this year in online-only publications and in non-paying publications. Almost all were in print markets and in paying markets.

- More of my stories than usual this year were published outside the U.S.

- I had fewer reprints published in 2022 than I normally do--most were original stories. I think that's because (1) more of my anthology stories this year were written specifically for the antho's requirements and (2) I've sold more stories recently to magazines that require previously-unpublished work.

How about you, and your own literary year? Was it a good one, or not-so? Do you see any changes or trends in what you're writing or how you're writing it or where you're submitting and publishing it? Nosy SleuthSayers want to know. 

Now, to the important stuff:

I wish all of you a happy and healthy and prosperous 2023!

See you next year.


  1. Sounds pretty impressive to me, John.
    I agree. Stories in the present tense are annoying.
    Edward Lodi

    1. Thank you, Edward. As for present-tense stories, I've come to the point where I can read them without being overly distracted--but if I ever tried to write one in present tense, I don't think I could sound convincing.

  2. Congratulations, John, and happy New Year. Well done!

    1. Happy New Year to you too, Leigh! Thanks as always.

  3. An "off" year for you, John, would be a career year for anybody else! An off year for me — and 2022 was one — included six new stories (one each in EQMM, AHMM, and Mystery Magazine, two in anthologies, and one published as a holiday pamphlet by Crippen & Landru), around a dozen reprints, and three new books (two I edited, and one I "co-wrote" with Ellery Queen).

    I actually like the use of present tense in some cases, though I only used it once this year.

    Coming up in 2023 (as far as I know at present, though hopefully these numbers will increase): five new stories, several reprints, and four books (including a big surprise!).

    Happy New Year to all Sayers of the Sleuth and readers thereof!

    1. Josh, I'm always impressed by your track record, not only at EQMM but in general, and also by your continued involvement with translations and anthologies (what a lot of work editing an anthology is!).

      Looking forward to seeing all your upcoming stories and projects--including the "big surprise"! Thanks for the comment, and please keep me posted.

  4. Happy New Year, John! Congratulations on a breathtakingly productive year, no matter how much you think your output went down. As for me, I write slowly, which leads to far less output, and this year even more so: but so far, most of it gets published. Got a novella coming out in Crimeucopia some time in January / February. Got a few other stories out and waiting to here. Got a narrator waiting for me to get back to work and let him finish his rap.

    1. Hey Eve--thank you!

      Sounds as if you have plenty of projects going on. As for your output, you said the magic words: "Most of it gets published"!! Very few writers can make that claim. Whatever you're doing, you're doing it right. Thank you for the update.

      Take care, stay warm up there, and keep in touch.

  5. John,

    I always appreciate your blog posts. Wishing you continued success in the coming year.

    1. How kind of you, Jacqueline. Wishing you success as well--have a great 2023!

  6. Congratulations on an excellent year, John. It's exhausting just reading and imagining all the work you manage to get done. Happy New Year and may you have another productive year (but I'm sure you will no matter what). --Susan Oleksiw

    1. Hey Susan -- Thank you. I really don't think of it as work. Work, to me, is writing nonfiction, or maybe doing your taxes. This is more a process of getting these constant ideas out of my head so I can move on to others--and it's fun. (How weird is that?)

      I wish you a great New Year also. Thanks so much for all your comments this year here at SleuthSayers!

  7. That's awesome, John! May your hot streak continue.

    1. Thanks, Rusty! Continued success to you also. Stay warm.

  8. Congratulations on another amazing year, John. I published ten stories this year, which is a career best, several in anthologies. I have five stories slated to appear in the next year or so, two in Black Cat Mystery Magazine and one in Alfred.

    For me, the big issue this year is being able to write at all. In September, I struggled with a story that would not come together and I finally abandoned it. I still have the file, but I produced no fiction after September until an idea finally came to me this week and I've started fiddling with that. So far, so good, but we'll see if I can sustain it.

    The present tense debate still surprises me. Dickens used it 150 years ago, and he probably wasn't the first. I have no problem reading it, and I use it fairly often myself. Sometimes I find that a story or novel that's dragging in past tense picks up energy and speed if I shift to present, but I guess it's just a matter of personal taste, like avocados.

    1. Steve, good to hear frrom you--and glad to hear about your upcoming stories in BC and AH. And I'm pleased that you've had a breakthrough lately and your newest idea seems to be cooking. That's a good feeling, isn't it? I too have abandoned a few stories, but usually find myself going back to them eventually.

      Yes, you and I have talked about present tense before, and I admire you for your comfort in using it. I can't seem to get used to that technique, even though (as you've said) it's been around for a long time. Using "he says" and "she says" in a story just seems odd to me, and I'm sure if I tried using it a story of mine I'd screw it up. Yep, it must be personal taste (and I like avocados).

      Wishing you the best in everything for 2023, old friend. Keep me posted!

  9. Elizabeth Dearborn31 December, 2022 12:18

    I had nothing published in 2022 & didn't start any new projects either. I still tinker occasionally with a story I've been working on for a year or two. What's my excuse? In order: vacation, death in the family, surgery, husband's cancer diagnosis, inherited money, death of a friend, snowstorm. Sometimes it happens that way.

    1. Elizabeth, sounds like those are all good reasons for a delay. Hoping things will work out and that you'll have a much better 2023.

      Thank you for stopping in here. Best wishes for the new year!


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